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Shakespeare may have penned 'Double Falsehood' after all

By Karen Graham     Apr 10, 2015 in Entertainment
Austin - A play published in 1728, allegedly wtitten by Lewis Theobald, called "Double Falsehood," has had scholars debating whether the "bard," William Shapespeare actually wrote it. New studies on the play do point to Shakespeare as the author.
In 2010  Brean Hammond published  Double Falsehood   claiming he believed the play was a collaborati...
In 2010, Brean Hammond published "Double Falsehood," claiming he believed the play was a collaboration by Shakespeare and Fletcher.
Timothy Lee
The authorship of "Double Falsehood," or as the play is sometimes called, "Distressed Lovers," has been debated for a long time. Some scholars think Lewis Theobald did adapt the play from three Shakespeare plays that were subsequently lost in a library fire.
Other scholars say the play is the work of the Bard, along with his collaborator, John Fletcher, while others say they think Theobald did write the play and just said he had based the work on Shakespeare's plays.
Double Falsehood, a take of distressed lovers
The play is set in Andalusia in Spain and is based on the “Cardenio” episode in Don Quixote. It has all the distinguishing features of a play written by Shakespeare, a bit of sexual intrigue, women dressed as men, secret letters and tragedy laced with a little comic relief.
But there is more to the play. Many parts, actually whole sections of "Double Falsehood" contain word-for-word excerpts from the play "The History of Cardenio," written by John Fletcher & Shakespeare. Historical evidence shows that in December 1727, the Drury Lane theater performed a play loosely based on the Cardenio episodes in the 1612 translation of Don Quixote. That play was "Double Falsehood."
Getting to the bottom on the authorship mystery
Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin decided to try and get the authorship question resolved. Focusing on the three writers, they examined 33 plays by Shakespeare, 12 by Theobald and nine plays written by Fletcher. They created a "psychological signature."
The researchers ran the plays of the three authors through a software program that analyzes text, thematic categories (like religion or class), and word patterns, particularly the "function" words, like pronouns and prepositions. They also looked at how socially or analytically inclined each text was in relation to the time it was written.
Based on all the parameters studied, they were able to set up a psychological profile on each author. Then they compared the profiles with "Double Falsehood." Study author Ryan Boyd says in an April 9 press release he "had just kind of assumed that it was going to be a pretty cut and dry case of a fake Shakespeare play."
Breaking the play down to its five acts, the first three clearly showed Shakespeare as the author. In acts four and five, the measures varied between Shakespeare and Fletcher. According to the press release, "using measures that tapped into the author’s psychological profile, Boyd and J. W. Pennebaker, co-author of the study, were able to see that the author of Double Falsehood was likely sociable and fairly well educated — findings that don’t jibe with accounts of Theobald as well educated but also rigid and abrasive."
Professor Brean Hammond of the University of Nottingham in 2010 published the play in a fully annotated form, claiming he believed the play was a collaboration between Shakespeare and Fletcher. He hailed the Texas study, but cautioned the researchers may not have taken into consideration the play had been heavily revised on at least two occasions, wondering if the analysis could have picked up on the complexities.
The research was published in the journal Psychological Science on April 8, 2015 under the title: "Did Shakespeare Write Double Falsehood? Identifying Individuals by Creating Psychological Signatures With Text Analysis"
More about Shakespeare, Lewis Theobald, Psychological Signatures, john fletcher, distressed lovers
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